Leah Harms has been a member of the First Responders Support Team (FRST) since 2019 when she attended training for therapists who were interested in working with first responders. Growing up with a father who served as a firefighter in Lincoln, she says that the first-responder culture is something that has always been familiar to her, and it is a niche that has interested her professionally for a long time. Leah is also the fiancé of a Council Bluffs, IA firefighter.
Leah Harms, Behavioral Health Clinician & Physical Wellness Coordinator
She currently holds dual roles as a therapist (LIMHP, CPC,LADC, CPT), offering counseling and support groups to first responders and their families, as well as the Coordinator of Physical Health for the Foundation. Leah says that she recognizes the great intersection between the health of the mind and the health of the body. She emphasizes to therapy clients that exercise is a key component of the work that they do to achieve progress toward their therapy goals. She adds that it is an excellent source of stress relief and that she herself considers going to the gym her own “therapy”.
After getting to know Leah a bit, you learn that fitness is an enduring passion of hers.
She was a three-sport athlete in high school, played a year of college softball, and currently trains for bikini competitions. In 2019 she earned her IPE (International Professional Elite) bikini pro card, meaning that she has progressed beyond the amateur level of competition and now is only able to compete against professionals. During the pandemic, she sought her personal trainer’s license, and she currently offers her personal training services at the Foundation’s Wellness Center.
Leah encourages first responders, veterans, and their families to utilize the Wellness Center, mentioning that it offers a unique environment where they will interact with others who share common experiences. She adds that it is open 24/7, is not super busy and that there is quality equipment, including a CrossFit jungle gym. In addition to open gym memberships, the Foundation offers wellness programming at the fitness center including group strength and conditioning classes, yoga, personalized nutrition coaching, and more.
The combined location of the therapists’ offices and the fitness center also serves to maintain privacy for clients, Leah says. If your car is spotted outside of the building, nobody will know whether you are there for therapy or whether you are there working out. She adds that this was done intentionally to support first responders, who work in a field where seeking help for mental health is frequently stigmatized. Leah and the rest of the teamwork to break down this stigma by spreading the message that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness, and she encourages anyone who feels that they could use additional support to reach out.
Leah says that it has been a dream of hers to be able to provide therapy and to work in a fitness center. The Foundation is honored to offer both to local heroes, in its commitment to standing behind them.
Leah co-facilitates the Spouse Support Group for first responder spouses/significant others and family members, the first Thursday of every month from 6:00-7:00 pm. To contact Leah, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 402-440-9168.